If you read this article from Fast Company — “What Does Authenticity Really Mean?”  — you’ll get a smorgasbord of options:

  • According to one person cited in the article, “If you want to be a leader, you have to be yourself—skillfully.” So, if you were on the verge of being yourself haphazardly — or being someone else skillfully — it might be best to stop now.
  • According to another source, “It’s not about style. It’s the person inside of you.” Apparently, contrary to what we’ve been told for so long, clothes do NOT make the man. Goodbye, winter wardrobe.
  • According to yet a third source, “Your past made you who you are.” This would appear to be true prima facie; although, the fact that it had to be stated makes me wonder if there isn’t more going on here. Maybe it’s possible my past made other people who they are. Or maybe other people’s pasts made me who I am. Either way, it does seem to explain my existential disorientation.
  • And finally, still another source believes this about authenticity: “It’s about becoming ‘the person you are created to be’.” After interviewing hundreds of thousands of subjects in my lifelong quest for authenticity, the only one who had the slightest reservation about accepting this definition was Frankenstein’s monster. But he left me with the nagging sense that he was conflicted by deeper issues.

Please forgive me for simplifying, but if we really want to understand authenticity, it might be easier to call it what it is:

integrity (noun)

adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

Granted, that would preclude our invoking obfuscatory terminology in the attempt to sound cerebrally hip and trendily with it. You know, terms like disruption and innovation that have all the substance of a bucket of steam. It also would put a myriad of contemporary publications of out of business, even though there might be a commensurate resurgence in the popularity of dictionaries.

But all that is just so much wishful thinking. Who needs reality when there’s authenticity?

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